Finally! Dow finishes above 14,000

Investors cheer IBM, other upbeat earnings news, while they overlook Bernanke's testimony, Fed minutes.

By David Ellis, staff writer

NEW YORK ( -- Wall Street logged another historic milestone Thursday as the Dow finished above 14,000 for the first time ever, helped by positive corporate earnings while investors kept a close eye on the Federal Reserve's outlook on the economy.

The Dow Jones industrial average (up 82.19 to 14,000.41, Charts) finished about 82 points, or about 0.6 percent higher, ending at 14,000.41, after straddling the key psychological mark during the session.


The broader S&P 500 (up 6.91 to 1,553.08, Charts) rose over 0.4 percent to finish at an all time high, breaking the previous record set last Friday.

The tech-fueled Nasdaq (up 20.55 to 2,720.04, Charts) climbed nearly 0.8 percent, reaching its highest level in over 6-1/2 years during the session.

The Dow's historic finish above 14,000, which was preceded by the index closing in record territory in 5 out of the last 6 sessions, however may be overblown, according to some market experts.

"I think it's only a number and it's not really material," said Rob Lutts, chief investment officer of Cabot Money Management. "What's much more important is the fundamental factors in our economy and what those trends are."

Even though there were some disappointments, upbeat earnings news from companies such as IBM (Charts, Fortune 500), Honeywell International Inc. (up $0.44 to $60.98, Charts, Fortune 500) and Bank of America (down $0.09 to $49.27, Charts, Fortune 500) helped lift stocks Thursday.

Wall Street got more earnings news from the tech sector late Thursday, as tech giants Google and Microsoft reported earnings after the closing bell.

Top search leader Google announced just after the close Thursday that quarterly sales beat projections but its earnings fell short of forecasts. Google (Charts, Fortune 500) shares slipped 5 percent after hours following a slight drop in regular trading on the Nasdaq.

Microsoft (Charts, Fortune 500) reported earnings in line with estimates but revenues came in slightly above Wall Street projections. Shares of the software maker climbed over 1 percent higher in electronic trade on the news.

The pace of earnings activity is set to slow down Friday, although Dow components Citigroup (Charts, Fortune 500) and Caterpillar (Charts, Fortune 500) are both due to report before the bell.

Eyes on the Fed

Even with the deluge of earnings news, Wall Street kept a close eye on the Federal Reserve as central bank Chairman Ben Bernanke returned to Capitol Hill for a second day of testimony in front of a Congressional committee.

Touching on a number of issues during a question and answer session, Bernanke said that the central bank needs more economic data before it is convinced that inflation is moderating and warned that the recent losses in the subprime mortgage sector could hit $100 billion.

Stocks pared some gains briefly after the central bank released the minutes from its June 28 meeting, in which policymakers said housing is likely to remain a drag on growth but that inflation remains its greatest concern.

More and more earnings

In economic news, mid-Atlantic factory activity grew at a slower than expected pace in July, the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank said Thursday.

And jobless claims fell unexpectedly for the second straight week as the number of new filings declined by 8,000 to 301,000.

No major economic reports are on tap for Friday.

Market breadth was positive. Winners beat losers nearly 2 to 1 on volume of 1.53 billion shares on the New York Stock Exchange. Advancers topped decliners more than 3 to 2 on volume of 2.21 billion shares.

Oil prices climbed towards $76 a barrel as U.S. light crude for August delivery rose 87 cents to $75.92 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Treasury prices edged higher Wednesday, sending the yield on the benchmark 10-year note lower to 5.01 percent from 5.03 percent late Wednesday.

The dollar eased against the euro and was slightly higher versus the yen.

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